Coaching CEOs online

Chander Sharma trains and coaches CEOs online to be effective and efficient. His tongue-in-cheek account of dealing with them in their home settings… 


The long spell of the pandemic has had a profound impact on our life in some ways that are difficult to fathom. Education has gone online, not just for the school and college goers but for the CEOs and top executives who take courses to upgrade their skills and equip themselves with the right attitude to carry out their work more effectively and efficiently. 

One of the leading leadership coaches in Delhi, Chander Sharma is also a trusted business advisor, has been running a management consulting firm serving clients–CEOs and top executives in India as well as in Europe, Africa & Middle East. In the last three decades, he’s developed a skill that comes from years of practice, of how to make people tick with a group as a leader, the ability to motivate, inspire and challenge themselves to perform better, redefine their optimum best. 

And that is possible by rejiggling the ability to innovate that stems from creativity, resilience, ability to operate under pressure.

A birder by hobby, Chander is out in the field with his binoculars, studying bird behaviour, when he’s not training CEOs on how to improve their performance in the office. He’s a management graduate with diverse experience in learning and development, leadership development, organization development, talent management, succession planning, sales training, employee relationship, and engagement on strategic and deployment levels. He’s fairly hands-on in designing, deploying the assessment and development centres to drive sustainable performances. 

And it has helped many and he’s done well even during the pandemic as he went online, though, he loves real conversation with real people to help them unearth their hidden potential. It was not out of choice but now after operating for a year or so online he’s able to retrieve the business to former pre-pandemic levels. 

And he gets a glimpse of people’s houses and their way of life that might not be necessary for him to forge their success strategy. One thing comes clearly, many of the CEOs and top executives, not just in India, are not very well versed with technology, particularly when it comes to switching off the webcam. 

So while they’re in their night suits or some without their shirts on, one CEO was seen walking in his undies with his earplugs on blissfully wrong that it’s just an audio conversation. Many of them are constantly distracted by domestic chores, a shrill voice comes penetrating from the backdrop, instructing the CEO in question to finish his paratha ( breakfast ). 

Sharma has many such instances to share when his clients are blissfully unaware of the faux pas. And these interruptions in the virtual communication have affected Chander’s efficiency to improve the efficiency of CEOs to be better managers of their time and resources at their disposal. 

He often wonders that teaching CEO online could be difficult as perhaps kids in a kindergarten. Richa Srivastava, 45, is a kindergarten teacher in Noida, and she has been taking online classes, and acknowledges that to “hold the attention of the kids and keep them focused is an onerous task and that it needs constant vigil of one of the parents.” She takes private tuition of kindergarten kids on the insistence of parents because they feel online education, especially at this nascent level, is not “real” and is not meeting its objective, and children will develop a skewed attitude towards learning and will get excessively dependent on gadgets.

Chander feels no different. Though online learning is here to stay, it is no substitute for the real interface between the teacher and the student. And many senior-level executives, though are not as fickle-minded as the kindergarten kids, are not very receptive to suggestions that may enhance their ability to function better. For they think they know it all, and old habits die hard. 

Chander also gets the feeling that interacting with them online means that they are not ready for it, as dressing up for work, leaving the comforts of home results in a certain change of environment that makes people more receptive to suggestions and focused on the task at hand. 

The environment does matter. And therefore many CEOs have changed a room in their house and furnished it like an office, and they dress up to enter the room and don’t leave till it’s lunchtime, and they resume the days of work after the meal. Like Bhupender Singh, president and CEO of Teleperformance DIBS explains, “only allowed me lunch with family, for the rest of the time I was locked up in my makeshift office inside my home.” 

Chander himself has been confined to his home for the good part of the last year. He waits for the time when real interactions with people will be safe.


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